Dairy Foods CEO: Immigration reform in 5 years | TSLN.com

Dairy Foods CEO: Immigration reform in 5 years

PALM DESERT, Calif. — International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes predicted here Monday at the group’s annual Dairy Forum that Congress will pass immigration reform in five years.

Dykes, a veterinarian who was a lobbyist for Monsanto before becoming head of IDFA in 2017, said in his annual speech to his membership the workforce is the biggest issue facing the dairy industry but that the United States faces broader population issues.

“The U.S. has the lowest population growth rate in history, not just one year but for the last 10 years,” Dykes said. “More people dying and we have fewer people being born in the developing world. We have a people’s issue. Sustainability, health and wellness with research, many of these other things we can fix with money, we can’t create more people.”

“What do we do? I think we’ll see immigration reform passed within the next five year,” he said.

“Now, a lot of people think Dykes has really lost it this time, but I’ve always thought he’s crazy, but he’s lost it this time. It’ll never happen. I don’t know. Where we sit today, it seems a remote distant, far distant possibility, but these workforce issues are driving change. We’re going to have to have people that are working, which means we’re going to need a system of legal immigration.”

Dykes added that he does not think that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., or Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., will deliver immigration reform, but that it will be the next generation of politicians and business leaders.

Dykes challenged his membership, “You guys are going to lead this. You’re going to step up. You’re going to be bold, and you’re going to do the things that you know are in the best interests of this industry.”

“Yes, you’ll get some arrows shot at you. They’ll be a lot of people that think you’re crazy, they won’t like what you’re doing. Got to stay the course. You’re the leader, the future of this industry is resting in your hands.”

International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes told convention members Monday morning that the U.S. is eating more dairy products than it drinks, as these graphs from his presentation show. At left is U.S. per capita cheese consumption, 1990-2020; at right is fluid milk consumption for the same period.

In other remarks, Dykes painted a positive future for the industry:

“Our farmers today are producing about twice as much milk today with half as many cows as we did 60 years ago. A glass of milk today has a carbon footprint that’s two-thirds smaller than it was. The things they’re doing with components, butter fat, protein, somatic cell counts, absolutely phenomenal.

“The last two years have been the strongest on record. Per capita consumption is up three pounds per person. Now, we’re consuming that in different ways. We’re eating more of our dairy than we are drinking. Butter has been crazy. Cheese is driving the bus. Fluid milk is declining, but dairy demand is increasing.”

But Dykes also noted that the increase in exports could fail.

“We’ve got some significant issues on the geopolitical scheme in terms of Russia and Ukraine, in terms of China and Taiwan, in terms of decoupling our economy with China. These could be major disruptors when it comes to global trade,” he said.

He also said that the industry needs to make sure that wellness-focused consumers see dairy “as healthy and good for you.”

Sustainability, he said, “is moving from storytelling to accountability, with real science-based metrics that are measurable. And when we get things that are measurable, that means we can track them. And we can mark up on how well we are doing against our goals.”

Dykes also noted that the Rockefeller Foundation just put out a report that said $1.1 trillion is spent purchasing food, but that the true cost of food “is not just what you spend to buy the food, it’s what has to be spent on the environmental impacts of that food production and on treating the diseases, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, renal failure.

“The diseases associated with what you eat receipts for food, plus the environmental, plus the medical about 3.2 trillion. So we’re going to hear more around the true cost of food.”

–The Hagstrom Report

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